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Sexual Identity

Relationships come in many forms. Learn more about sexuality and the different attractions and relationships people can have.

Two girls holding hands and two boys holding hands

What is sexual identity?

Sexuality is about how you see and express yourself sexually - like who you have a crush on, who you want to go out with, and who you want to have sexual experiences with.

It’s not really known why some people are straight while others are gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, or queer. But some researchers think that there might be things that happen in our bodies from very early in life that shapes our sexuality.

There are lots of ways that people describe their sexuality. In Australia, at least one in ten people do not think of themselves as straight and are part of the LGBTIQA+ community.

"It takes courage to be who you really are in a world that thinks being straight is the norm. Talk to someone you can trust if you ever feel confused, pressured or scared to be yourself" – Alex, Kids Helpline

How do I know what my sexual identity is?

  • Most people know from very young who they want to have relationships with. For others, it can take until they’re adults or longer to make sense of their sexuality.
  • But remember, sexuality is NOT a choice! It is different for everyone and is a natural part of who you are. Everyone has the right to feel comfortable and to be accepted for who they are.
  • It’s normal to feel confused or curious about whether you’re straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual or queer. Lots of people also feel this way because others in their life may that think sexuality is a ‘choice’ or assume that being straight is ‘normal’.
  • Just because you define your sexuality one way now, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind later. This doesn’t mean you’re ‘confused’ or ‘choosing’, it just means you’re still learning about who you are and what attractions and relationships feel right to you.
  • Your sexuality can be the same all your life or you might define yourself differently as you learn more about yourself.

Does questioning my sexuality mean I’m…?

Understanding yourself takes time, so it’s normal to have times where you feel unsure about your sexuality. But keep in mind:

  • Having a crush, sexual thoughts, or experimenting with someone who is a different sex or gender to people you’re usually attracted to - doesn’t automatically mean you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer.
  • You don’t have to be dating or have a sexual experience with someone to know you’re straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer. You might be doing these things and still not feel sure about your sexuality.
  • You may not have any sexual interest in anyone. This is normal too.

 

For some people, realising they’re attracted to someone of the same sex or gender can be a confronting, confusing and emotionally difficult. These feelings are usually because of fears and worries that the crushes or relationships they have won’t be accepted by the people around them.

For most people, understanding their sexuality and being themselves is usually relieving, freeing and exciting!

Everyone has the right to be themselves without needing to explain this to anyone. Feeling pressure to hide who you are can feel really stressful and affect our mental and physical wellbeing over time.

What can I DO to help me make sense of my sexual identity?

If you’re looking for ideas to help you make sense of your sexuality:

Learn more about what it’s like being in the LGBTIQA+ community. Check out Internet articles, books, fiction, blogs, music, shows and video games about their experiences.
It’s OK to have sexual thoughts, fantasies, or experiences with people of the same sex or gender. Noticing how these make you feel might help you make sense of your sexuality.
Some people can find that making sense of their sexuality is confusing and stressful. If difficult feelings come up for you, it may be helpful to talk to a safe person or professional.
Talk to LGBTIQA+ people you know and trust about what helped them make sense of their sexuality. Some people also find it helpful talking to LGBTIQA+ people in online support communities.
Find out about online and local community events in the LGBTIQA+ community for people your age. It’s OK to go along as an ‘ally’ if you don’t want to share your sexuality.
If you need more professional support, contact or visit a LGBTIQA+ service or support service that works with people in this community.

Remember, you’re not alone

Kids Helpline is always open.

Give us a call, start a WebChat or email us today.

This content was last reviewed 04/06/2018

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